fum·​ble | \ ˈfəm-bəl How to pronounce fumble (audio) \
fumbled; fumbling\ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce fumbling (audio) \

Definition of fumble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to grope for or handle something clumsily or aimlessly
b : to make awkward attempts to do or find something fumbled in his pocket for a coin
c : to search by trial and error
d : blunder
2 : to feel one's way or move awkwardly
3a : to drop or juggle or fail to play cleanly a grounder
b : to lose hold of a football while handling or running with it

transitive verb

1 : to bring about by clumsy manipulation
2a : to feel or handle clumsily
b : to deal with in a blundering way : bungle
3 : to make (one's way) in a clumsy manner
4a : misplay fumble a grounder
b : to lose hold of (a football) while handling or running



Definition of fumble (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of fumbling
2 : a fumbled ball

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Other Words from fumble


fumbler \ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce fumbler (audio) \ noun
fumblingly \ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ-​lē How to pronounce fumblingly (audio) \ adverb

Examples of fumble in a Sentence


She fumbled in her pocket for her keys. They fumbled a good opportunity to take control of the market. He was hit hard and fumbled on the 20-yard line. He fumbled the ball on the 20-yard line.


played the entire piano piece without a single fumble
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But Ben Roethlisberger threw three interceptions and fumbled twice, and Conner’s fumble in the fourth quarter helped the Browns rally. Rob Maaddi, The Seattle Times, "Week 1 ICYMI: No loss for Browns, but no win either," 10 Sep. 2018 Dass dribbled a grounder down the foul line, only for the catcher to fumble the ball. Sam Dodge, latimes.com, "Newport Beach PONY All-Stars advance to sectional championship," 8 July 2018 While most of us would be left fumbling in the moments when Kylie bakes her face at warp speed or applies lip liner with her eyes closed, Manny fully manages to pull it off — and even swaps some of her hero products for more affordable versions. Zoe Weiner, Teen Vogue, "Manny MUA Recreates Kylie Jenner’s Vogue Makeup Routine Tutorial," 9 July 2018 Tag and Bink were introduced in a series of comics as the Star Wars equivalent of Hamlet’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern—two goofy minor characters fumbling around in the background of the biggest moments of the Star Wars universe. Scott Meslow, GQ, "Solo: A Star Wars Story: Everything You Might Have Missed," 26 May 2018 And, most egregiously, fumbling away Curry’s pass during the Warriors’ desperate possession with 3.4 seconds left. Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, "Flawed Warriors will find solace at Oracle," 25 May 2018 Rather than fumbling with two or more monitors, Dell is hoping more people will gravitate to the single, gigantic-monitor experience. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Dell’s newest monitor is a 49-inch, dual QHD, curved behemoth," 15 Oct. 2018 These options aren't ideal for home security, as fumbling with keys in the dark can waste precious time. Timothy Dahl, Popular Mechanics, "How to Choose the Best Gun Storage," 8 Aug. 2018 Bregman took off for first, and after fumbling with the ball for a moment Lucroy threw to first baseman Mark Canha. Jim Reineking, USA TODAY, "Houston Astros get wild walk-off win against Oakland Athletics," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Donald Trump made headlines this Christmas Eve for a fumble on the phone with a child. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "JFK Once Wrote a Sweet Letter to a Child Reassuring Her About Santa's Safety," 26 Dec. 2018 Ejiofor recorded 50 tackles, 17 for losses, 10 1/2 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles as a junior. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Texans sign sixth-rounder Duke Ejiofor (Alief Taylor)," 11 May 2018 The 6-foot-2, 249-pounder added 22 quarterback hurries, one pass breakup and four forced fumbles while wreaking havoc in opposing backfields throughout the season. James Crepea, AL.com, "Auburn's Tray Matthews signs with Minnesota Vikings," 28 Apr. 2018 The inventory fumble helped wipe nearly 19% from shares Friday, its largest decline in more than a decade. Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ, "Nvidia Grapples With Cryptocurrency Miners’ Exit," 16 Nov. 2018 Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, left, forces a fumble by Rams quarterback Jared Goff on Sunday. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The NFL Soap Opera Is Ready for Its Twist Ending," 19 Dec. 2018 In 204 career games with Miami, Taylor recorded 709 tackles, 131 sacks, 44 forced fumbles and eight interceptions. ▪ Mark Clayton holds the franchise record with 550 receptions and 81 receiving touchdowns. Jordan Mcpherson, miamiherald, "The Miami Dolphins will honor six of the best players in franchise history this season," 10 July 2018 Wilson, the Seahawks’ seventh-year quarterback, completed 22 of 36 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and a lost fumble in the defeat. Mike Vorel, The Seattle Times, "Pete Carroll says Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is ‘over-trying,’ plus injury updates and more," 18 Sep. 2018 In a situational role last season in Los Angeles, playing behind stars Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, McCain compiled five sacks and two forced fumbles in 15 games played. Zak Keefer, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Two under-the-radar additions hope to find new life on Colts defensive line," 4 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fumble.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fumble


1534, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fumble


probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Swedish fumla to fumble

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Statistics for fumble

Last Updated

23 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for fumble

The first known use of fumble was in 1534

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More Definitions for fumble



English Language Learners Definition of fumble

: to search for something by reaching or touching with your fingers in an awkward or clumsy way
: to handle something in an awkward or clumsy way
sports : to fail to catch or hold the ball


fum·​ble | \ ˈfəm-bəl How to pronounce fumble (audio) \
fumbled; fumbling

Kids Definition of fumble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to feel about for or handle something in a clumsy way He fumbled in his pockets.
2 : to lose hold of the ball in football



Kids Definition of fumble (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of losing hold of the ball in football

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More from Merriam-Webster on fumble

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fumble

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fumble

Spanish Central: Translation of fumble

Nglish: Translation of fumble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fumble

Comments on fumble

What made you want to look up fumble? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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